Harper Adams University embarks on vertical farming trials

Harper Adams University partnered with horticulture lighting firm Vertically Urban, to work on vertical farming technology.

As part of a Defra funded project, the institution is providing modern facilities for commercial and academic crop growing trials in its Jean Jackson Glass House and research area.

The glasshouse, built in 2016, is made from polycarbonate, which provides improved thermal dynamics, making it more energy efficient than glass. Additionally the structure’s height allows for improved heat dissipation.

At its conception, the university trialled various LED lighting systems to determine how plants grow differently under different lighting conditions. Since then, a retrofit glasshouse compartment has been added to the facility to house several final-year research projects and a commercial project.

Its most recent development has been a new project funded by Defra and involves pairing different cultivars of lettuce with varying conditions. The aim is to look at the path from seedling to plant and the effects that different kinds of lighting can have. This extends from earlier research into light recipes in rooting young plants and exploring how plants can be produced using different light.

The CEO of Vertically Urban, Andrew Littler, said: “Vertical farming is key for the next generation of growers; it is excellent to see such a progressive approach from one of the UK’s top educational establishments.

“We worked closely with the research team, who provided a wish list for a bespoke product, and we were happy to assist.”

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